Chevron with the Wind? In What Might be a SCOTUS Preview, Federal Courts Chip Away at Expansive Regulatory Interpretations

Regulations — and executive agencies’ interpretation of those regulations — can make or break companies, and even entire industries.  For decades now, the judiciary’s approach to administrative review, found in the landmark 1984 case Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. National Resources Defense Council, largely deferred to government agencies’ interpretation of their governing statutes on the grounds that such agencies were best positioned to interpret those statutes. “Chevron deference” became a foundational framework for administrative law.  

But in recent years, critics have argued that Chevron

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EPA Issues Final Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency announced March 20 final national pollution standards applicable to cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles. These standards apply to vehicles manufactured beginning in 2027. The new standards will be phased in on vehicles manufactured until 2032. 

The EPA estimates the new standards will avoid more than 7 million tons of carbon emissions. The standards also are estimated to provide over $100 billion in net benefits to society – including $62 billion in reduced fuel costs and $13 billion in public health …

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Net full of salmon being hauled onto purse seiner

The Fishing Case that Could Put the Chevron Doctrine Out to Sea

On January 17, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, No. 22-451, an environmental-law dispute concerning fishery management in federal waters.       

The case reached the court via a petition of four commercial fishing companies challenging a federal fisheries regulation, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which provides that the National Marine Fisheries Service can require private vessels to “carry” federal observers onboard to allow for the enforcement of the agency’s regulations (federally-prescribed fishing “catch” limits being the most …

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Sterile storage of medical and surgical instruments in the dentist's office. View from above. Closeup shoot.

FDA Finally Recognizes EtO Sterilizing Alternative as the World Becomes a Force Majeure Pile-Up

Perhaps nothing has proven the indispensable value of commercial sterilizers more than the devastating worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Without the highly effective and efficient commercial sterilizer ethylene oxide (EtO), we would not have been able to rely on lifesaving sterilized medical equipment and supplies – such as cotton swabs for nasal-swab testing, masks, ventilators, and thermometers – to get us through the past four years. Moreover, maintaining basic hospital functionality and everyday healthcare needs outside of the pandemic requires sterile equipment and supplies simply for civilization …

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The flags of the North Carolina state and United States of America waving in the wind. Democracy and independence.

North Carolina Joins Growing List of U.S. Environmental Justice Policy Proponents

At the end of October, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 292, which reestablishes the Secretary of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board (EJ Board) as the Governor’s Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJA Council), originally established by the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan, who previously served as North Carolina’s DEQ Secretary.

In a “whole of government” approach to policymaking, EO 292 also directs equity-promoting actions that reflect the needs communicated by local communities overburdened …

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EPA Announces Latest Actions to Address Hydrofluorocarbons

Nearly one year after ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Environmental Protection Agency announced two additional actions to further this initiative under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM).  The Kigali Amendment is an international agreement aimed at phasing down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”) by 80-85 percent by 2047. It also seeks to avoid up to .5 °C of global warming by 2100.

By way of background, HFCs are used in applications …

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EPA Offices, Washington DC

EPA Updates FOIA Regs to Promote Transparency and Affordability of Information Concerning Environmental Justice Issues

On September 7, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was updating its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations through its Phase II FOIA final rule. This “modernization,” is part of EPA’s continued efforts to advance transparency – here, by improving the EPA’s FOIA program through a renewed focus on accountability, affordability, and better access to information for communities of color with environmental justice concerns. The final rule is a wider part of the Biden Administration’s general promise to prioritize consideration of communities …

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Oregon’s Multnomah County Sues Fossil Fuel Companies Seeking $50M for Purported “Heat Dome” Heatwaves

Oregon’s most populous county, and home to Portland, sued more than a dozen oil, gas, and coal companies for over $50 million in damages related to a 2021 “heat dome” the county alleges was caused by the defendants’ contributions to climate change.

Multnomah County, which filed the civil suit in June, is also seeking no less than $1.5 billion from the defendants to pay for potential damage from future extreme heat events, and another $50 billion to study, plan, and protect people and Oregon’s infrastructure …

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Montana Ruling May Preface Nationwide Increase in Judicial Environmental Mandates

In what could be the start of a national trend, a state court judge recently ruled that Montana’s government must do more to protect the state and its residents from climate change. 

State District Judge Kathy Seeley, citing a state constitutional right to a clean environment, ruled in favor of a group of youth plaintiffs and invalidated a pair of laws prohibiting state agencies from considering the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions. According to Judge Seeley, “[t]he degradation to Montana’s environment, and the resulting harm to Plaintiffs, …

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EPA Offices, Washington DC

FDA to EPA: Pump the Brakes on New EtO Rules During Supply Chain Shortage

With COVID diagnoses spiking across the United States this summer, we cannot yet claim that the pandemic is behind us. In fact, we are still experiencing residual medical device and equipment shortages, which has caused medical providers to spend billions on alternative sterile medical products and even implementing rations in some cases. Complicating the issue is the fact that, typically, only a handful of manufacturers and suppliers distribute these life-saving products, so alternatives can be difficult to procure. Shortages appear to be endangering other …

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